Archive for the ‘Fortress’ Category

Flight of Dragons

The Ruins of Bannerman Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

We have been doing this urban exploration thing for over five years now. We have explored places all over New England. We’ve seen the abandoned hospitals of Connecticut, the derelict fortresses of Rhode Island, the lost ski resorts of Vermont, and the forgotten landmarks of Massachusetts. New England has always been our base of operation. But this past autumn, we finally headed west to the Empire State. New York is a place that we have visited a few times lately on movie business, but had never done any exploring there. Technically, it’s almost closer to us than a lot of the places we’ve already visited. And so, for our eight year anniversary we finally decided that it was time. Our first destination? Bannerman Castle.

Bannerman Castle is kind of a local legend in these parts. Oddly enough, the local inn we stayed at on our trip had dozens of paintings of the castle all throughout their foyer. Located on Pollepel Island, smack dab in the middle of the roaring Hudson River, the castle was first built in 1901 by industrialist Francis Bannerman IV. Making his fortune in the scrap business, Bannerman is unofficially known as “The Father of Gun Collecting.” Though the main castle was built as a housing facility for his vast arms and munitions arsenal, the island was also the vacation home of the Bannerman family. Following Francis’s death in 1918, the castle went through a series of unfortunate events including fires, accidents, and architectural collapses. The island was named off-limits in 1969.

Since its closure, Bannerman Castle has slowly deteriorated. It’s once grand presence now haunts the Hudson River Valley. But in recent years, the local community has come together to bring it back to life. Through the Bannerman Castle Trust, certain buildings have been restored and the castle itself stands in a state of arrested decay. Much like Chester-Hudson Quarry in Massachusetts, the castle is maintained just enough to keep it from collapsing. The trust offers tours of island in the summer and fall via ferry. We were lucky enough to catch one of the final tours of the season. Taking a small boat through the roaring Hudson River, the castle looms like a mythical giant in the distance. It beckons all weary travels towards its once rich gateways.

Honestly, the castle is damn near awe-inspiring. Against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hudson River Valley around it, the faded red palace looks like something out of a fairy tale.  While the front of the castle still looks amazing, the back is in much worse shape. It looks like it could collapse at any moment. Unfortunately, seeing this place is much more tourism that it is exploration. We were on the island for a grand total of about an hour, and did not get to see the castle as up close as I would have liked. Guides ferry visitors to and fro across the island like sheep. Nothing against them or the Bannerman Castle Trust, I just would’ve preferred seeing the place on our own as opposed to in a group. This was definitely a very different experience than we are used to.

I almost didn’t write about this place for our site. Like I said before, this place is much more in line with Dark Tourism than urban exploration. But Bannerman Castle truly is amazing to see. Even if you don’t take the island tour, seeing it from the banks of the river or the top of nearby Mount Beacon is bloody breathtaking. Much like Hearthstone Castle, it feels like something from a dream. Yet as awesome as Bannerman Castle is, I couldn’t help but imagine what it must’ve been like during its heyday. Walking across the island was just as cool as it was somber. The dragons that once ruled this magical place have long since flown off. And yet, somehow, the castle has captured the hearts and minds of the local community. She may never again rise to her former glory. Yet with a little help, she still stands tall.

If you are interested in visiting the castle, please check out the Bannerman Castle Trust’s website here – https://www.bannermancastle.org

Hail to the King

The Abandoned Hearthstone Castle

Written by: Wilk

Photographs by: Lassie

Happy Fall, everyone. It’s finally here. The leaves are changing colors. The nights are getting colder. And the scary movies are starting to pop up on television. Though it always feels like such a passing season, each moment of Fall comes with its own personal flair. This one in particular is special for us. We finally made it to a place that has haunted us for years. We have made many plans to go see it at many points during our six years of urban exploring. Yet somehow, especially with its looming potential demolition, we never quite made it to this hot-spot. This is Hearthstone Castle, a true legend in these parts. If you are reading this, you have most likely heard of or visited this place. And now, after all these years, she finally makes an appearance here on our site.

The history of Hearthstone Castle is brief, but checkered. Located in Danbury, Connecticut, the castle was built in 1895 to a wealthy local family. For years, she served as a residence and a summer home. Materials to create and furnish the castle were flown in from around the globe. She changed ownership and name many times over the years, before finally being sold to the town of Danbury in 1987. It was here that things began to take a dark turn for the castle. Though it was declared a National Historic Place, the property rapidly began to fall into disrepair. Many proposals have come and gone with what to do with the old castle even as nature slowly begins to strike back. Today she sits completely abandoned, and has become a favorite place amongst the local urban explorer community.

We really weren’t planning on stopping at Hearthstone. Coming home from New York, we saw that we would be going straight through Danbury. And thus, we decided to stop and see the fabled castle. As a hiker and a hunter, finding Hearthstone was disappointing. You park your car. You walk into the woods. And there it is. There is no long hike. There is no hunt through the woods. Its just sitting right there, waiting for you. And yet, the castle is simply breathtaking. The old stone architecture is unmatched. It is very reminiscent of the nearby Gillette Castle. Birds chirp from the ramparts. A fox scurries amongst the underbrush. And remarkably, not a single NO TRESPASSING or KEEP OUT sign was in sight. A couple random fences still stand, but other than that, the castle is just there for the taking.

I can honestly say that the years have not been kind to Hearthstone Castle. Though her tough stone facade remains unflinching, her interiors have been truly disemboweled. The floors are all gone. And those that still stand are shaky as all Hell. Broken glass and splinters of wood are all over the ground. Graffiti and vandalism runs rampant across the grounds, except for in the higher to reach places. Wild vines and vegetation grow in canopies across the walls and porches. The once great walls that were once occupied by the highest of society are now home to the wrath of nature and vandalism. If your tall, like myself, this place can be a little tricky to navigate. I can honestly see why this place has been scheduled for demolition. And yet, through it all, she still remains steadfastly beautiful.

 It was honestly hard to tear myself away from Hearthstone Castle. I spent a long time just staring at it long after we had finished exploring, trying to take in every tiny detail. It just has a certain magic to it. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more. When we finally did leave, I had to tell myself not to look back. It was sad to think that this was the first, and will probably be the last time that I see the castle. With every year that passes, somebody of importance almost always says that it will be Hearthstone’s final year. But I guess that is just the brevity of existence. We’ve got to enjoy life one day at a time. And one day Hearthstone Castle will fall, whether it be by the teeth of a bulldozer or the slow decay of time. But no matter what the future may hold for this magical place, it will always be a legend.

The Top Ten Movies that Explore Abandoned Places

Written by: Cobra

So two years ago, I wrote a piece for this site covering the Top 10 Movies to be set in abandoned places. It got a shit ton of views. So last year, I wrote a sequel: the Top 10 Movies filmed in abandoned places. Now, comes part three. I love movies. I love watching them, talking about them, and being in them. But ones that involve abandoned places always interest me. Its always fun to compare fictitious abandoned places to real ones. What sets this list apart from the last one is that those were movies where the main action took place in an abandoned setting. These films only explore them. So without further ado, I bring to you – The Top Ten Movies that Explore Abandoned Places.

#10 – My Soul to Take (2010) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0872230/

We start this list with a movie that I was in, as is tradition. Directed by horror movie master Wes Craven, this film could’ve been a lot better. Eighteen years after his alleged death, The Riverton Ripper returns to his hometown to hunt the seven children mysteriously born the night died. Every year, these seven children commemorate the date by throwing a party at the now abandoned ambulance where the Ripper was last seen.

soul-to-take

#9 – Halloween (1978) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0077651/

Truly one of the greatest horror movies of all time, John Carpenter’s immortal classic is kind of similar to our last entry. One Halloween night, a young Michael Myers puts on a mask and his murders his sister in cold blood. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a mental institution to wreak havoc on his hometown once again. During those fifteen years he was gone, the Myers House has sat empty and abandoned. Trafficked now only be thrill-seekers and teenagers, the house is a chilling reminder of a terrible crime.

Halloween

#8 – V for Vendetta (2005) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0434409/ 

Whether you love it or hate it, this film certainly is unique. It’s style, story line, and performances are all quite different from your average comic book adaption. Set in a dark future where Great Britain is ruled under a fascist government, a mysterious freedom fighter named V aims to take down the regime and restore freedom to the people. The film’s climatic end and fight scene take place in the abandoned London Underground train system. With its shadowy lighting and creepy aesthetics, it really brings the scene to life.

vendetta

#7 – Inception (2010) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1375666/ 

I’m not even going to try to explain the plot of this film. Seriously, its so intricate and deep (in a good way) you’re just going to have to watch it. All I will say it takes place in the world of dreams. And in this world, the deepest level is Limbo. Or in simpler terms, unconstructed dream space. Our main character Dom, played marvelously by Leo DiCaprio, returns to Limbo years after building a city with his lost love. Now, it stands in ruins. Populated only by memories and the ghosts of his past.

Limbo

#6 – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2015381/ 

I really don’t care for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I love this movie. I sometimes wish that Marvel would just keep the Guardians separate from the rest of the MCU. Anyways, an unlikely group of intergalactic misfits are forced to team up to save the universe from certain destruction. James Gunn brings a fabulous soundtrack, memorable characters (except for his annoying brother), and a great story to life. One stop on this grand adventure is the abandoned planet Morag. It may be just a pit-stop in the overall film, but its still a really cool location.

Morag

#5 – Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2527336/

The most polarizing Star Wars film ever made. After destroying the destructive Starkiller Base in the previous film, our heroes are now being pursued across the galaxy by the villainous First Order. They manage to make their final stand at an abandoned Rebellion base on the salt planet of Crait. Say what you will about this film (personally I despise it) but Crait really is one of the coolest planets we’ve ever seen in the series. The visuals are stunning, the set design is on point, and the abandoned planet makes for a fitting setting for the film’s climax.

Crait

#4 – Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (2018) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4881806/

After the massive success of its predecessor, it really isn’t surprising that we’re getting a sequel. And this one looks even better. The Jurassic World park is now abandoned. Dinosaurs roam freely once again. But when a volcano threatens to destroy the island once and for all, our heroes must rally together for a rescue mission. Seeing the once captivating resort park of the first film in such a state of decay gives this film a really cool vibe. And while we still have a few weeks until it hits theaters, the trailers sure look promising.

Jurassic

#3 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) –  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0903624/

When you try to turn a three-hundred page book into three three-hour movies, things don’t usually come out so good. And that’s coming from a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan. Now that that’s out of the way, this trilogy starter tells of the adventure of Bilbo Baggins before the events of the original trilogy. The young Hobbit ends up whisked off on an adventure to reclaim the Dwarf kingdom of Erebor. Along the way, the wizard Gandalf makes a trek to the abandoned fortress of Dol Guldur. Evil spirits now haunt the empty corridors, and this place become a backdrop of villainy for the entire trilogy.

Dol_Guldur

#2 – The Hills Have Eyes (2006) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454841/

One of my personal favorite horror films. It is just so damn intense. A remake of Wes Craven’s 1977 cult classic, this film more or less proved to the world that remakes of horror films can actually be good when put in the right hands. The story follows the Carter Family, traveling across the desert to California. They are eventually set upon by a dangerous group of people living in the hills. Towards the end of the film, the film winds up in an abandoned nuclear test site from the Cold War. And it is really spooky. Ghostly mannequins, derelict buildings, and old cars make this ghost town a terrifying setting.

HHE

#1 – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) – https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0304141/

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” One of my personal favorite films in the Harry Potter series, this story follows his third year at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. A dark figure from Harry’s past and convicted murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizard prison Azkaban, and is coming after him. With the help of his friends and new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Harry Potter goes on quite an adventure. One of the key sites of that adventure is the notorious Shrieking Shack. Believed to be the most haunted building in the country, this abandoned house plays a major role in the film’s climax.

Shriekingshack

And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Let us hear about it in the comments below!

 

Top 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Posted: March 20, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Drive-In, abandoned home, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, abandoned military bases, abandoned mill, abandoned new england, Abandoned Railway, Abandoned train station, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Berkshires, Bolton, Broken, Closed, commercial, Connecticut, darkness, Death, Destruction, dreams, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Fortress, Forts, Graveyard, Hiking, History, Homeless, Information, left behind, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, Nike Missile Base, overgrown, photography, Portland, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, State Parks, Stories, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Williamtic, writing
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Top 5 Abandoned Places to Go Hiking

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

Hiking is the whole reason we ever got into this. We accidentally stumbled upon the abandoned Sunrise Resort while hiking at a state park in Moodus. The rest is history. When we plot an investigation, it is usually to go explore something like a big abandoned building. But every once in awhile, we come across a place that may not be as exciting as an abandoned asylum but is still a fun place to hike. There may not be too much to see, but its nice to just be outdoors and do some exploring. Here are a few of our favorite abandoned places across New England to go hiking!

#5 – Manchester Drive-In (Manchester, CT)

This is another place that we just accidentally stumbled upon. While driving home from the office, I would see a large skeletal frame looming out of the woods. I thought it was just an old billboard, but upon further exploration we uncovered that it was actually the ruins of the old Manchester Drive-In movie theater. Unfortunately, there is not much to see here. But the old sign still sits out front, and the old screen looms high and daunting in the sky. With good weather, it is a really nice hike.

#4 – Aspinwall Hotel (Lenox, MA)

And once again, this was another place we just found. We were staying up in the Berkshires as I had a big audition up there. We went for a short walk by our hotel, and found the ruins of the Aspinwall Hotel. Once one of the most popular hotels in all of New England, this former hotspot was burned to the ground at the turn of the century. Now only ghostly ruins still stand all over the woods. But the picturesque mountain view and the lovely wooded setting make this one a very cool visit.

#3 – Willimantic River Railway (Willimantic, CT)

This place can be a little spooky. It was once part of the lifeblood of the rail system all along the East Coast. Now, she is nothing more than a shadow of her former self. The local homeless population uses this area from time to time as a makeshift tent community. But they periodically seem to get kicked out. Plus stretching over the untamed Willimantic River still stands the old tressell, aka The Bridge of Death. Crossing it is certainly one thing that we crossed off our bucket list. Watch your step, and don’t look down.

#2 – Shade Swamp Shelter (Farmington, CT)

This is certainly one of the more unique and underrated places that we have ever visited. It really doesn’t get enough attention. Once a wildlife shelter and sanctuary, this historic landmark now sits empty in the middle of the woods just off a very busy road. Along a winding trail, there are dozens of old enclosures, cages, and habitats that once housed the former residents of this shelter. On a nice sunny day, this place is not only great for hiking but is also a treasure trove for all you nature photographers out there.

#1 – Nike Missile Site (Portland, CT)

Our number one pick just happens to be in the middle of a state forest. It may be a gigantic pain in the ass to get to, but its really worth it if you can make the trip. Unpaved roads, untamed wilderness, and a total lack of other people can hinder your journey. But if you can find the lost Nike Missile site deep in the woods, you’re in for a real treat. The two sites are about a mile from each other. One features a few still standing structures. The other still has its tunnel system (which we recommend you stay out of). Of all the places on this list, this one is truly all about exploration.

And that’s our list! Got any other places you think are great for hiking? Be sure to let us know! Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe.

Top 5 Abandoned Places to Visit this Summer

Posted: February 3, 2017 by kingleser in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Business, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Connecticut, Abandoned Forts, Abandoned Hospital, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned Sanatorium, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bates Motel, Beaches, Cape Cod, Children's Hospital, Connecticut, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Hiking, History, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Movies, Mystery, Napatree Point, new england, Ocean, Ocean View, photography, Public Parks, Rhode Island, Ruins, Seaside Sanatorium, State Parks, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, Waterford, writing
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Winter sucks. I mean it really sucks sometimes. Especially if you live here in New England. One day it will be fifty degrees out. The next day there will be a foot of snow on the ground. Hooray. Things can be a bit unpredictable. As such, we usually slow down a bit on our adventures during the winter. When you’re exploring a place that you really aren’t supposed to be at, leaving footprints in the snow is never a good idea. Plus most of these places get really cold during the winter time. So, since we don’t really have anything new for you guys right now, it’s time to look ahead. Sitting here, with a few inches of snow on the ground outside, here are the Top 5 Abandoned Places to Visit this Summer.

#5 – Seaside Sanatorium, Waterford, Connecticut

We talk about Seaside Sanatorium a lot on here. But it really is a cool place. Sitting pretty right on the lovely Long Island Sound, this place has changed quite a bit over the years. Built in the early 1920’s, this massive hospital has seen a lot. It was regrettably closed in the 1990’s, and has declined ever since. Due to its status as a National Park, it is heavily frequented by beach-goers. Yet none of them seem to pay attention to this place. In our most recent visit, fences and major construction has taken over Seaside Sanatorium. Though round the clock security guards protect the abandoned asylum, it is still a beautiful sight to see.

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#4 – Bates Motel, Truro, Massachusetts 

Is it really called Bates Motel? We don’t know. Hell, nobody seems to know. That is just the moniker that this mysterious abandoned motel has earned due to its similarity to the legendary locale from Psycho. We love this place because it is just so mysterious. Located in a flourishing beach-side community, Bates Motel is a creepy and ramshackle relic of days gone by. The sun shines brightly overheard, and the beautiful blue ocean stands at her back. Yet she remains quiet as a tomb. In recent years, it has diminished greatly. Yet she still stands, waiting for something that will never come.

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#3 – Fort Mansfield, Watch Hill, Rhode Island

This one is a bit of a hike. It really is a pain in the ass to find, especially if the wind is blowing. Its about a mile down Nappatree Point, hidden amongst a bird sanctuary. But if you can find it, this old coastal fortress really is something special. Hidden amongst the sea grass and wild vegetation lies the remains of Fort Mansfield. Due to a fatal flaw in her design, she was deemed unfit for use by the military and eventually retired. It is quite similar to her cousin Fort Wetherill, which we’ll get to. But Fort Mansfield is far more desolate and much more isolated. What’s left makes for a very cool and unique adventure, if you can brave the long walk down the sandy beach.

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#2 – North Truro Air Force Station, Truro, Massachusetts

Yes, another great place to visit on Cape Cod. It may be one of the most picturesque parts of New England, but it has its share of secrets. And one of the best kept ones is this abandoned military base. It is the largest place on this list, and completely legal to visit. Left empty since the nineties, this old Cold War base is now nothing more than a ghost town. Dozens of old houses still stand. The old helipad is still there. The baseball field is now wild and overgrown. There is so much to see here. We literally spent an entire day exploring this place, taking hundreds of photos. It really is that awesome.

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#1 – Fort Wetherill, Jamestown, Rhode Island

Our piece that wrote on this place is still the most popular one we have ever written. And for good reason. Fort Wetherill really is a magical place. Sitting right outside the luxurious community of Newport, Rhode Island, this abandoned fortress sits right at the edge of the sea. It is certainly one of the toughest abandoned places we have ever visited, in the sense that this place has been through a lot and still stands. It is completely legal to visit, and unfortunately many vandals take advantage of that. But her graffiti covered exterior just makes this place that much more hauntingly beautiful.

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And that’s our list! Did we miss any out? Are there any cool places in New England that you plan on visiting this summer? Let us know in the comments. Likes, shares, and such are always appreciated!

Cold War Ghost Town – The Abandoned Truro Air Force Station

Posted: August 18, 2016 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Baseball Field, Abandoned Cabin, Abandoned Cape Cod, Abandoned Forts, abandoned home, Abandoned House, Abandoned Massachusetts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Bates Motel, Beaches, Birds, Broken, Cape Cod, Closed, darkness, Death, Destruction, empty, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, forgotten home, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, House, Information, left behind, Magic, Massachusetts, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, State Parks, Stories, Truro, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Cold War Ghost Town

The Abandoned Truro Air Force Station

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

War is a lot like love. It is easy to start, difficult to end, and impossible to forget. No conflict in human history has ever been truer to these words than the Cold War. Decades of mutual hatred between the East and the West brought our entire planet to the brink of destruction. It was an era of fear, anger, and paranoia. And out of those dark emotions came a massive military build-up that spanned across the globe. Today, it is a different world. All of these fears and doubts have faded away, but the ghosts of the Cold War conflict have not. They are hidden, amongst the darkest corners of our forests and our memories. Ruins of old military bases are now nothing more than graveyards. But on the far reaches of Cape Cod, there is one that stands out from all others.

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In the dark days following World War II, the United States military began to prepare to adjust to the changing international atmosphere. Across the country, missile defense bases began to emerge. In 1951, the North Truro Air Force Station was born. Situated on the far end of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the base had many different jobs during the Cold War conflict. With ever changing and advancing technology, the station was largely used as a radar and air defense base. It housed hundreds of American military personnel over the years, and was complete with on-site housing and recreational facilities. But when the Cold War came to a sudden end in 1991, the future of the station became cloudy. In the turmoil that followed, the North Truro Air Force Station was closed in 1994 and the land was sold off.

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Over the years, we had heard many rumors and stories about the North Truro Air Force Station. Many debated whether or not the place was worth a visit, and even more argued about what was actually left to see. Finally, in the early summer of 2016, we were finally able to stop by the curious facility. The sun was shining. The beaches were busy. And the true magic of Cape Cod was just beginning to wake up. The Air Force Station lies off a quiet road on the far side of North Truro. It is actually only a short drive from the fabled Bates Motel, which is more than worth a visit. The base is technically part of a national park, and is legal to visit. Certain areas are still used for community functions though, and are off limits. It doesn’t look like much, but hidden amongst the heavy underbrush and beach foliage is a ghost town, as old and as spooky as the Cold War itself.

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Upon arrival, the first thing to greet you is what appears to be a large open field. But in actuality, this is the overgrown baseball field from the station’s heyday. The old dugouts and diamond can still be seen if you look hard enough. It is a short walk down the old road, though, where things start to get interesting. Here lies the ghost town. Lining a short stretch of road are what remains of the on-site housing for the military personnel. Each one has simply been left to rot. The doors aren’t even boarded up. Inside, kitchen supplies, mementos, and relics of the past have been simply left behind. The houses at the front of the street were for enlisted men. Down the road were the officer’s houses, which were larger and included garage bays. Many tools and pieces of scrap metal could still be found in a few garages. But beware, asbestos warnings and broken glass are everywhere. Watch your step.

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Hidden farther off in the woods is the old helipad. There is not much to see here, save for a few concrete foundations and filled in tunnels. A slight breeze from the nearby ocean blows through the tall sea-grass. Sea birds and gulls caw overheard, singing a soft eulogy for this forgotten place. We only ran into two other people, an old couple walking their dog who were more than happy to tell us what they knew about the site. If you truly wish to see urban decay at its finest, without running the risk of being arrested, then this place is a must see. It truly is a ghost town, as if everyone just got up and left someday. Never to return. Of all the former military bases we have explored, North Truro Air Force Station was the most intact and most interesting. It is in a class all its own. But to us, this place, much like the Cold War, will be impossible to forget.

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Fortress of Solitude – The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Posted: March 19, 2015 by Abandoned Wonders and Hidden Wonders Photography in #postaday, Abandoned, Abandoned Attractions, Abandoned Forts, abandoned military bases, abandoned new england, Abandoned Rhode Island, Abandoned USA, Abandoned Wonders, Beaches, Bird Watching, Birds, Broken, Closed, darkness, Destruction, Exploration, exploring the abandoned, Forgotten, forgotten beauty, Fort Wetherill, Fortress, Forts, Ghosts, Graveyard, Haunting, Hiking, History, Information, left behind, lost, Military, Military Forts, Mystery, Napatree Point, nature, new england, nightmares, Ocean, Ocean View, overgrown, photography, Public Parks, research, Rhode Island, Ruins, Safety First, Searching, seaside, Stories, time, Uncategorized, Urban Decay, Urban Exploration, Urban Exploring, Urbex, writing, WWII
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Fortress of Solitude

The Abandoned Fort Mansfield

Written by: Sean L.

Photographs by: Amanda H.

   The waves of the ocean crash up against the sandy shore. Fierce gusts of wind shriek through the tall sea grass. Packs of white gulls soar overhead, cackling and cawing to each other. The sun shines powerful and radiant in the sky. The deep Atlantic water is an enchanting shade of bright blue. This is Napatree Point, Rhode Island. And somewhere, lost in the vegetation of this place, lays an abandoned military fortress. The ramparts crumble as they slowly succumb to the barrage of time. Dark and empty corridors are haunted by the ghosts of the past. What once served as the first defense of the American homeland now lies in total silence. This is Fort Mansfield, forgotten by some and a legend to others. Unlike one of the other famous abandoned military forts in Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill (see our write-up here), this former coastal artillery instillation has been all but lost to the white sands of Napatree Point. Located in the village of Watch Hill, Fort Mansfield was one of our most difficult treks, but also one of our most rewarding discoveries.

Fort Mansfield has called Napatree Point home since its creation in the early twentieth century. The point is a small piece of land branching out from the town of Watch Hill. The United States military first purchased the property in 1898, as part of a new program to install artillery batteries all along the coast of New England. Though it may not have as rich of a history as Fort Wetherill, Mansfield does have a much sadder story than its legendary cousin. The fort was officially commissioned in 1902. However, during the war games of the early 1900’s, a fatal flaw was discovered in the fort’s design. The guns of the fort would be unable to repel a head-on assault from the sea, and it would be an easy target for an amphibious assault. Thus, the fort was decommissioned from active status in 1909. Over the years, the garrison of the fortress slowly dwindled as the military lost all interest and faith in it. The land was finally sold back to the town of Watch Hill in 1928. The fortress has remained abandoned ever since.

Having heard whispers of Fort Mansfield in the past without ever finding much information about it, we decided to go searching for it during the fall of 2014. As a burrow of the town of Westerly, Watch Hill is quite the summer hotspot, but it goes quiet during the offseason. Napatree Point is perfectly legal to walk, except for the handful of beachside bungalows at the very beginning. There is a nice little parking lot that is free to park at right in the middle of downtown Watch Hill. After parking, we began our walk down the point. There is beach on either side of the point, with thick vegetation in the middle. This is also a bird sanctuary during the summer nesting season. It is roughly a little over a mile to the very tip of the point. It is also fiercely windy due to the proximity to the ocean. The early stages of the point are decently trafficked by beachgoers, but the end of the point is deserted. After a long time combing through the point’s thick grass, we finally came upon the abandoned fortress.

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The fortress is comprised of two sections: one part contains the first two artillery instillations and the second section is a brief walk away containing the third instillation. There were once a few buildings here, but they have long since been demolished. The first section is a pretty good size. Though it is not as covered in graffiti as Fort Wetherill, Fort Mansfield is still pretty vandalized. Lots of tagging covers the walls, and there is plenty of liter down in the lower tunnels. The local fire department had put up some fencing around the outer walls of the fort to prevent visitors from getting in, but they are quite easily bypassed via a few still functioning ladders and former staircases. Several metal slabs have also been placed over certain points. Except for the blistering gusts of wind, this place is completely silent. There are several entrance points down to the lower levels. Since the front walls have been knocked out, there is a decent amount of light down here. The floor is also completely flooded in certain rooms from years of rain and high tides.

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The second section of the fort is a brief walk down an overgrown path. It sits on the very edge of Napatree Point, giving an excellent view of the Rhode Island coastline. It is much smaller than the first section of the fort, and is much more difficult to see. Tall sea grass and vegetation keep it very well hidden. The graffiti here is actually much more light hearted than the first section. At the very top of the fort, there are a couple of small staircases leading up to what must have once been look out posts. They provide excellent cover from the merciless wind. Unlike the first section, there are no barricades or fences to deter visitors here. Down to the lower levels, there are several large empty rooms. They are in complete darkness, yet they are completely empty save for the trash of vandals. Someone, or something, is most definitely living here. While exploring the dark passages of the lower levels, we heard something moving around in the tunnels. We didn’t stick around to find out what it was.

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Though it is a bit of a trek and can be difficult to find if you don’t know where to look, Fort Mansfield is definitely worth a visit. Unlike the legendary Fort Wetherill, this abandoned base is not home for teenage destruction and vandalism. Because of its remote location, the fort is only enjoyed by those who are willing to make the journey. The fierce winds and the hot sand make it a tough trek, but the fort is more than worth it. While the coastal town around it continues to grow and flourish, Fort Mansfield continues to stray out of thought and time. It is the ruins of a fortress that never got to be. Its run as a coastal artillery unit was cut tragically short by a fatal flaw. Now the land weeps, haunted by a purpose that it never got to fulfill. It is truly a fortress of solitude; quiet and alone, but still standing guard over its former territory.

View on the walk back